Entangled bottlenose dolphin rescued
Fishermen trained by WWF–Pakistan safely released an entangled bottlenose dolphin near Ormara, Balochistan this past weekend.
The rescue was reported on Saturday by Jehan Badshah, the skipper of a tuna gillnetter vessel.
Dolphins are marine mammals which regularly come to the water surface to breathe, therefore, once entangled in fishing gears, they can immediately die.
Badshah narrated that his crew spotted a live dolphin entangled in the gillnet and carefully freed the mammal using equipment stored on board. The rescue proceeded without any untoward instance and the bottlenose dolphin was safely released back into the sea.
In 2015, two dolphins were released by fisherman in Pakistan. Given the time passed since the last rescue, Saturday’s news has been greeted as significant from a conservation point of view.
Fishermen have been trained under WWF-Pakistan’s Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) project which is funded by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and Common Oceans.
There are two species of bottlenose dolphins, including the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), which are mostly found in our offshore waters and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), which is more coastal in nature. Both these species are reported from Pakistan and pods of these dolphins are seen frequently in coastal and offshore waters.
Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan, appreciated the efforts of the fishermen, particularly the fact that the animal was not hurt in the process.
He pointed out that 22 species of cetaceans are known from Pakistan and all of these are considered vulnerable or threatened. Khan further pointed out that all cetaceans, including whales and dolphins, were declared protected species under fisheries legislations of the governments of Sindh and Balochistan on May 18, 2016 and September 7, 2016, respectively.
They are also declared protected species under the Balochistan Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act 2014.
Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan, pointed out that a study on marine dolphins and whales was initiated by WWF-Pakistan in 1997 and involved other concerned research intuitions of the country. Since then, considerable information has been generated about cetacean population.
In consultation with all major stakeholders, WWF-Pakistan has prepared a Cetacean Conservation Strategy which was presented during a workshop in 2013. Enactment of the legislation for protection of cetaceans by fisheries and wildlife departments was one of the major recommendations of this strategy, which is now being implemented.
He stressed the need for effective implementation of the legislation, stating that it could effectively ensure protection of dolphins and whales in Pakistan.